A homely take on classics
October 18, 2012
I have, as my handful of readers noticed, turned lazy. Shamelessly. The last post I wrote after eight months spanned just 160 words. In short, it ended almost before it began; quite an antithesis to the dinner I had at a friend’s place the other day. My invitation was for — apart from juicy chitchat — fish and chips with beer, an irresistible package for a forced bachelor. It ultimately turned out to be a spread that royalties would be proud to serve.
This was the first time I tasted Kingfisher Ultra, a beer expensive by Indian standards (Rs 85 for a 500 ml can). The playboy brewer has nearly gone bust but it hasn’t had any effect on the beer. It’s light and crispy yet heady, a perfect companion on an autumn evening, and next only to the divine Kings (available only in Goa) and (Danny Denzongpa’s) Dansberg in taste.
The fish and chips appeared an innovative take on the stuff that you get in restaurants. Humus was served instead of tartar sauce, the fish was not clichéd bekti but meaty basa fillets, firm yet juicy and plump. A bowl of Russian salad completed the package and made me nostalgic. For, I was tasting it probably for the first time since the Nineties, when nearly all caterers in Calcutta used to serve it with cutlets and fries.
The moment I thought that I was full, a stuffed capsicum popped up. Pregnant with minced meat, the vegetable was baked to perfection. By this time, I was going strong on the third can.
The last course was unexpected: one of the finest homemade biryani I ever had and a masterpiece in restraint. Its silky buttery taste, the host explained, came from the marrow of hulking bones clinging on to succulent pieces of mutton and was perfectly complimented by fresh bundi raita.
Though there was no potato and boiled egg accompanying the biryani — sacrilege to a Calcuttan — the juices of the marrow infused into the rice and made us lick our fingers. I will christen the dish nalli biryani, in the fond reminiscence of a former-colleague who used to insist that his biryani — and he used to order a packet of it every evening — must have two nalli pieces.
PS: As if the lavish dinner wasn’t enough, the gracious host drove me home dead at night — a sweet icing on the cake!
PS*: It’s a shame I don’t have pictures of the spread. For, it would have been uncouth to whip out a camera (in any case, I didn’t have one on me) and start clicking like a child.